Biden’s distorted D-Day history seeks to rally others to his endless wars

President Biden’s bellicose nationalism was again on display during the D-Day commemorations. In a pair of addresses, Biden not only sacralised war and exalted the virtues of ‘the American’. In the finest populist tradition, he misrepresented the history of the Second World War to rally Europeans to never-ending-war. It all passed with little real deconstruction from the media.

Over and over, generations of political leaders have fallen for the delusion that death and destruction bring a resolution to political problems. Still, when called upon, people from many nations have bravely sacrificed themselves for their communities whatever the casus belli. To remember their sacrifices is right but to distort that memory to foster more war is abhorrent.

Operation Overlord was the biggest amphibious assault ever and the 325,000 allied troops involved performed with memorable bravery and skill. It was an important event in the war. Subsequently the Battle of Normandy took place between June and August, 1944 and secured the beachhead from which the Allies advanced.

Biden asserted that on the beaches of Normandy, “the tide turned in our favour.” In Normandy “we proved that the ideals of our democracy are stronger than any army or combination of armies in the entire world”. Jingoistic myths at odds with reality.

In June 1941, on the other side of Europe, began the largest and costliest land offensive in human history; Operation Barbarossa, the German invasion of the Soviet Union. The following series of battles involved approximately 10 million combatants and over 8 million casualties. The scale of the conflict in Eastern Europe was staggering.

Leningrad was under siege for 900 days between 1941 and 1944, and Moscow from October 1941 to January 1942. The Battle of Kursk in the summer of 1943 saw 6,000 tanks and 4,000 aircraft engaged in largest tank battle ever. The brutal Battle of Stalingrad is widely regarded as marking the Axis forces’ first major defeat and the turning of the war in the favour of the Allies.

Operation Barbarossa involved 408 divisions in total, easily the biggest campaign in the war. The German army had 75-80 percent of its forces deployed in the East for most of the war. Had these forces been in France and the Low Countries, Overlord probably would never have happened. In the East the Germans lost about four million of the five million soldiers killed in the war. It was in the East and at the hands of the Red Army that the Germans lost the war.

In neither of his two adulatory addresses in Normandy did Biden even mention the Eastern front, or the valour of the Russians.

Something more than a little disturbing took place at Colleville-sur-Mer. Under the guise of commemorating D-Day, Biden distorted the history of the Second World War in Europe, evincing a brand of toxic chauvinism and blind fanaticism like that which gave rise to the war in the first place.

The average American’s heroism and perseverance in Biden’s ideology achieves almost mystical levels. Reiterating a constant theme of his presidency, he declared that “ordinary Americans can do extraordinary things when challenged“. At Pointe du Hoc Americans exceeded normal human endeavour because, to Biden’s mind, “They were a part of something greater than themselves.” “They were Americans” and “there is nothing beyond our capacity in America when we act together”, he said.

The clarion call is hardly sotto voce in Biden’s words. He is promoting conflict and confrontation and preparing his audience for the major sacrifices they must make to fulfil his mission. “Freedom is worth it”, he says, “Democracy is worth it. America is worth it”. He misrepresents the real history of the war in order to convince the Europeans that the Americans are invincible. That the “struggle between a dictatorship and freedom is unending” and the debt the Europeans owe can be seen in “cemeteries in Europe where [America’s] fallen heroes rest”. America won the war because only Americans could have won the war is the message.

Biden has to maintain that “the forces of liberty are stronger than the forces of conquest” and “that the ideals of our democracy are stronger than any army or combination of armies in the entire world”. He couldn’t concede that citizens brought up under the rule of the Tzars or committed to communism could be capable of great acts of sacrifice and heroism for their country. It would be unthinkable to put the ordinary resident of Stalingrad or the Red Army infantry soldier on the same level as ‘the American’.

Biden’s enemy is a caricature, a cartoon, a parody of tyranny. It is an abstraction with which he appears obsessed and not a particular nation in contingent circumstances. He wants to know if Europe will “stand against tyranny, against evil, against crushing brutality of the iron fist”. His language is apocalyptic. Rising to rhetorical heights Biden says “Let us be the generation that when history is written about our time — in 10, 20, 30, 50, 80 years from now — it will be said: When the moment came, we met the moment”. He is ready for a war that someone else fights.

Trump might prove be a disaster domestically for America, but Biden’s missionary fanaticism, his mystical view of the cleansing value of war, sacral understanding of America’s role, transcendent conception of the selfless, heroic, peerless American warrior, and his manichean world view mean his reelection could be a disaster for the world.

So much of what Biden said in the two addresses is blatantly wrong, and propaganda. The White House has the resources to know this. The emphatic valorisation and idealisation of ‘the American’ should be offensive to the citizens of other nations who have regularly proven that the virtues of courage, loyalty, and sacrifice aren’t the exclusive property of Americans.

When historical truth is obliterated for propaganda purposes alarm bells should be ringing.

Copyright Mike Scrafton. This article may be reproduced under a Creative Commons CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 licence for non-commercial purposes, and providing that work is not altered, only redistributed, and the original author is credited. Please see the Cross-post and re-use policy for more information.

Also published in John Menadue’s Pearls and Irritations.